Fidel Castro: U.S. wants to annex Cuba

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Fidel Castro: U.S. wants to annex Cuba

Posted on Fri, Feb. 22, 2008


In his first newspaper column since announcing Tuesday that he would step down, Castro opened ''ideological fire'' against Washington and the candidates for the White House and said President Bush is looking to annex Cuba.

The editorial underscored the new role Castro carved for himself in retirement as international observer and policy critic. As Cuba's National Assembly is poised to select a new ruling Council of State and president Sunday to replace the nearly five-decade leader, Castro has managed to hold onto influence through the power of his pen.

Experts say the columns, coupled with the fact that Castro did not resign his legislator's seat on the assembly or as first secretary of the Communist Party, illustrate that he does not intend to sneak away into oblivion.

He may be a hospitalized, retired civilian clad in a track suit, but Castro's latest wide-ranging missive made it clear he is keeping a close eye on international affairs.

''I had planned to stop writing these reflections for at least 10 days,'' Castro wrote. ``But I didn't have the right to keep quiet so long. We have to open ideological fire against them.''

After taking ill the summer of 2006, Castro began writing columns last year under the title Reflections by the Commander in Chief. After 49 years at Cuba's helm, his Friday morning editorial had a new title: Reflections by Comrade Fidel. Now the column's logo shows him in not military fatigues, but a dapper suit.

''Fidel Castro, if he's alive, will keep on writing,'' said Miami radio commentator Francisco Aruca. ``Fidel Castro was and still is the father of the Cuban revolution, the equivalent of Lenin for Russia. It's logical that he's going to keep doing it, and people very much respect him.''

Castro began his column by noting that the anxiety over Cuba's closely watched National Assembly meeting Sunday had left him exhausted. He slept better than ever the night his resignation letter was posted on Cuban news sites.

Friday's editorial blasted U.S. presidential candidates and European socialists who called for democracy in Cuba. He mentioned Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. decision to shoot down a spy satellite in space and took a jab at President Bush's visit to Africa.

''I enjoyed observing the embarrassing position of all the presidential candidates in the United States. One by one, they found themselves forced to proclaim their immediate demands to Cuba, so as not to alienate a single voter,'' he wrote. 'Half a century of blockade was not enough for the chosen few. `Change, change, change!' they shouted in unison.''

Castro has his own idea.

''I agree. Change! -- but in the United States,'' he wrote. 'Cuba changed a long time ago and will continue on its dialectical course. `Let us never return to the past!' our people exclaim. 'Annexation, annexation, annexation!' the adversary responds. That's what he thinks, deep inside, when he talks about change.''

Castro called European leaders who have called for democracy for Cuba hypocrites lacking in moral authority. Without naming him, he took a thinly-veiled swipe at European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solano, a former Spanish culture minister who called for ''political transition'' in Cuba.

''Their colonialism, and the neocolonialism of entire continents, from which they extract energy, raw materials and cheap labor, disqualify them from a moral standpoint,'' Castro said.

Castro clearly rushed back to his writing because he was perturbed and surprised by calls for democracy from both the right and left, Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas said by telephone from Villa Clara.

''People he expected to support him instead insulted him,'' Fariñas said. ``He was not going to write any columns for a while, but he felt he had to come out and refute those statements with this.''

Castro closed his piece with a request: that his Reflections should never run on the front page again.

Castro said now he's got work to do: how to record his vote for Sunday's election.

Miami Herald translator Renato Pérez contributed to this report.

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